This weekend, Immaculate Conception welcomes a missionary to speak out the work of their group’s ministry. So, I will not be preaching this weekend but I do want to offer some reflection on the first reading and the gospel (21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B).
In the first reading, Joshua has gathered the people for a final speech. He knows the people have not always followed the Lord and says to them,
If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
We certainly don’t believe in the gods beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites but we still need to make a decision about which god we will serve. Hopefully, this seems simple. We believe in just one God right? We should but is there anything more important to us than God? Money, pride, prestige, sports, gadgets and toys, work…. If any of these things are more important to us than God, then they, in effect, become our god.
Being a person of faith isn’t always easy. For instance, the people listening to Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse heard Jesus say that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This doesn’t make sense. It’s disgusting and it breaks specific rules in the Old Testament not to drink blood. We know Jesus to be speaking of the Eucharist but those first crowds didn’t.
It can be a challenge to believe in the Real Presence because we cannot prove through science that the bread and wine are changed in any way. Some of the crowd “returned to their former way of life” because they couldn’t understand what Jesus was getting at. Even today, people drift away from the Catholic Church for lack of belief in the Real Presence.
I cannot prove through science how the bread and wine are changed into Jesus’ Body and Blood but I do very much believe it to be true.
There are other teachings of the Church that people struggle with. Is there a teaching you struggle with? Do you seek the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to accept the teaching or is it easier to walk away?